Advances in technology, changing customer needs, and other market and societal forces are converging to evolve and expand the marketing function. Indeed, “Marketing’s role in strengthening a company’s operating effectiveness has never been more important,” according to a recent report in Harvard Business Review.
Here are some examples of how marketing’s cross-departmental involvement is being used to strengthen companies’ operational effectiveness.
- Supporting HR. Recruitment is no longer the sole responsibility of HR. Marketing is actively involved in recruitment strategies. My colleague Liz Schaefer wrote about how greater collaboration between marketing and HR teams can more effectively maximize the impact of a company’s marketing and recruiting efforts, advancing the brand and simultaneously addressing recruiting and hiring challenges.
- Customer experience. Vya is seeing more and more marketing executives taking on responsibility for both marketing and the customer experience. Having the opportunity to lead both functional areas can put a marketing team in a better position to be able to deliver on the brand promise. For example, in a podcast discussion, Academy Bank Director of Marketing and Client Experience Officer Charles Freeman talked about his blended marketing and CX role this way: “It has made a tremendous difference in how I approach my job and how I look at our clients. And I think there’s a number of ways that if you look at this, and how it really integrates well, and how we’re able to get better by marrying those two disciplines.”
- Operations. We’re living in a time when the capacity for operational flexibility is paramount. Take, for example, those in the restaurant business, who are managing through unprecedented uncertainty every day. Uncertainty is expected to continue with ongoing supply-chain snags, labor shortages, and new cost and supply pressures around the globe. Experts agree, flexibility is essential for franchise restaurants to overcome whatever happens next.
This kind of cross-departmental collaboration is smart. Breaking down silos and involving marketing helps drive consistency across brand messaging, customer experience and employee experience. But it can be challenging, which is prompting marketing leaders to seek new models for building capacity to address their expanding roles.
More is being asked of marketing, and many activities involve other departments and disciplines, including HR, customer experience and operations. There are efficiencies to be gained across the organization by leveraging marketing’s investment in talent and technology. But there is often a disconnect between marketing’s expanded role and internal support for the resources required to perform.
This means that marketing leaders must find a way to align expectations around marketing’s responsibility to drive company growth with marketing’s operational capacity – including investments in talent, technology, practices and processes. Internal marketing resources are not free. Other departments should be paying their fair share of these investments since they are benefiting and holding marketing accountable.
What You Can Do to Build Marketing Operational Capacity
The HBR report mentioned earlier explained, “Marketing organizations create operational value for a company by aligning disparate teams around a shared growth agenda and marketing approach and increasing their speed, agility, and collaboration. In part, that requires constantly upgrading marketing technologies to automate and integrate many aspects of customer relationship management at scale and in real time.”
Marketers looking to align expectations with capabilities should think about starting conversations internally about the benefits of building a next-generation marketing operation. Help decision makers recognize the broader benefits of marketing technology across departments, throughout the organization. Part of these conversations should focus on how best to recognize and measure the efforts being spent by marketing to support different departments.
Prepare for these conversations by identifying how marketing technologies – either existing or planned – provide support beyond the marketing department. Discuss how to either directly or indirectly account for those costs across functions.
HBR observed that effective CMOs “adopt technologies that help reduce the costs of coordination and collaboration and increase efficiency, transparency, and trust by enabling interaction across teams.”
Among our Vya clients, we’ve observed some excellent examples of leveraging marketing technology for cross-departmental or company-wide benefit. Here are just some of the ways these organizations are using their marketing resource management (MRM) systems to provide support beyond the marketing department:
- Franchise marketers are making materials available on their marketing portal to support franchisees in recruiting and hiring.
- Banks are making new employee onboarding kits available through their systems as well as employee rewards and recognition kits.
- Insurance companies are using their portals to enable employees across functions to order business cards, letterhead, and other stationery products.
- Restaurant franchisors are facilitating menu pricing and product offering flexibility through their MRM systems, enabling franchisees to make adjustments to address local market conditions.
Look at Outsourcing of Marketing Functions Through a Different Lens
There’s a tendency for internal marketing resources to be considered “free” by other departments. This can result in increased costs to marketing for tasks that do not contribute to organizational growth. For example, we’ve encountered marketing departments where their internal demand for marketing assets and templates is exploding beyond their team’s capacity. Before they know it, they need to hire more marketing staff to handle the workload.
It is beneficial to consider, “How much of this work is really necessary?” With our marketing resource management solution, we configure templates for clients and charge a nominal fee. This keeps them from having to dedicate internal resources for template creation. And it enforces discipline around the templates that are needed.
The ultimate benefit is that by outsourcing non-strategic marketing functions like template creation, they reduce their need to hire more marketing staff and they are able to free up their marketing team for more strategic responsibilities.
Conclusion - Getting Internal Alignment on Marketing’s Expanding Role
Marketing's hands are everywhere in companies that are successfully strengthening operations effectiveness. Everyone is benefitting or can benefit. As marketing’s role and responsibilities continue to expand, marketing leaders need to take steps to ensure internal decision makers understand what’s necessary to align operational capacity with expectations. This includes connecting the dots between marketing’s added responsibilities and the resources required to execute and contribute. Demonstrate how your marketing systems and resources, both in-house and outsourced, benefit other departments and help drive operational effectiveness and organizational growth.